I was in an elementary school Friday and there was a line of stars with rules written on them. Most of them were fairly sad and/or boring- don’t smoke, don’t play with markers (?), don’t leave your buddy etc.
I had a great time at UMW’s Faculty Academy. Got to meet a number of people face to face for the first time which is always interesting.
I was lucky enough to be able to present as a plenary speaker1 as well. After being repeatedly told to “bring my A game” I had completely psyched myself out. In direct retaliation I decided to introduce as many elements of “randomness” as I could into this presentation.2 I’m not necessarily arguing that all three made the presentation better but it did make it more interesting to me and I think they did add some interesting elements for the audience.
The day before the presentation I had already come up with two slide decks with two very different themes. One, had tattoos as the visual element because I thought the idea of things people were willing to have jabbed into their skin with needles made for an interesting visual theme. The other presentation was based around the danse macbre woodcuts from the Black Plague. Neither one did quite what I wanted and the macabre one was too depressing even for me.
So I decided to do a version of Deck Wars/Battle Decks. Essentially, I sent out an open call to Twitter requesting images.
Punish me. Send me url to any image & i will use in presentation tomorrow at #umw #masochist #ds106 #begging
The idea was to have no control over which images were chosen and then to use all of the images in the presentation. I did get a variety of very odd images but did not manage to use every one. A PDF of the presentation with some rough notes is here. The notes may have something to do with what I said but, then again, they may not.
Some facts about the images-
- 24 of 36 submitted images were used
- 1 image advocated snorting cocaine
- 1 image discouraged snorting bacon salt (not submitted by the same people oddly enough)
- 2 images had profanity (1 was used in the presentation)
- 28% of the images included animals
- 47% of the images included humans
I didn’t present until 2:00 so I went around in the morning and interviewed a few people. I then cut up the video to include in the presentation. This worked out pretty well and I like the end result, audio aside3. I think this kind of tight turn around using people known to the audience can be a unique and powerful way to snapshot certain conversations. I believe the immediacy makes the end product seem more pertinent and I hope it inspires some people to realize they can make video less of a monumental task while still being able to use it in a powerful way.
I had the groups talk in groups at the table and then had the tables submit the top 3 ways that student skills seemed to be deteriorating via a Google Form. My plan was then to put this into a word cloud and break down what aspects of the standardized testing mentality created these issues. Part one and two worked well but for some reason my end goal slipped my mind and I didn’t explain how we got to those problems at all. I think in part because I didn’t ask people to stick to short phrases and the tag cloud ended up being messier than I would have liked. I should have used something from ManyEyes and done something more sophisticated (like what I embedded below). This should have been the best and most important element had I not botched it. Basically, I ended up doing what I had intended to do here in the workshop on the next day.
If you share my masochistic tendencies, the full presentation is below. I’ll warn you I start off rough but do improve some.
Assignment: Reduce a movie, story, or event into its basic elements, then take those visuals and reduce them further to simple icons.
That’s my attempt above. I tried to stick to a three color scheme. The first image is supposed to be a parking meter. My wife was unable to ID it. It needs work. Hopefully the other three are at least identifiable.
I don’t use vector drawing tools very often. I clearly need to spend some more time with them to get some skills but that was half the reason I attempted this. My learning is now public, fairly messy, but most of all not really what I want. That is ok. It’s fun. It isn’t a contest. I’m enjoying it. I do not fear Jim Groom’s red pen.
You might also notice that I’m doing assignments in and around the #ds106 course but not necessarily all the ones that are assigned, nor am I necessarily doing them in the order they are given. I’m doing extra “work” with the interest and energy moves me1. I may go back and do some. I may not.
I like the MOOC idea. I find it valuable to have a group of people moving through the roughly same ideas at roughly the same time. I like the freedom I find in the structure. What worries me is how just calling something a course seems to bring a ton of baggage with it. People worry about not completing every assignment, being compared to others/graded and, most depressingly, being found wanting. I’ve seen this in the blog posts of participants and the comments of people I know in “real life” who’ve opted not to participate.
I see this mentality as a direct result of our educational system – adults, scared to try new things, as a learned response. I don’t blame the people. I think I see how this point is reached systemically. It’s just a pretty depressing legacy for a system that claims to produce life-long learners. It’s going to take an enormous amount of time and work to fix something buried this deep.
So, I’m inviting you to take part. If you’ve wanted to play along but haven’t because of lingering fears or doubts, come on in. The water is fine. The people couldn’t be nicer2. Jim couldn’t grade you if he wanted to3. Hey, there’s even a rather bizarre participant-run and -created streaming internet radio station.
Inspired by Colt Rane who ought to be making a huge number of English teachers happy with this image. He’s got one for the Great Gatsby as well but I don’t remember the book well enough to know if it’s good or not.
Jim’s doing a class on digital storytelling. The course is open and free. That means we can all play and assume multiple roles. This is going to be fun.
Take your two favorite movies. Make one iconic poster. For bonus points use only black and white.
Find the center of disorder in your house. Make it interesting. Make it beautiful. Make it art, if only for a moment1. Take a picture.
Tweet, Tweet, Bang!
Say It Like the Peanut Butter
Make an animated gif from your favorite/least favorite movie capturing the essence of a key scene. Make sure the movement is minimal but essential. 3.
—All images are from ffffound.com which is pretty much the best place ever.
Here’s a quick example for the Witch in The Wizard of Oz.
I’ll see if time allows me to make one for a Jamestown colonist. The problem is that these take a good bit of time and effort if they’re going to be good. That’s great in a project but it does make it harder on me.
Anyway, lots of English and history applications. It’d be fun to write survival guides for self-destructive historical or literary figures- maybe Edgar Allen Poe or Custard.